Jargon meterJargon has welcomed some new members to the fold this year. Or maybe it’s been happening longer, but I’ve been running into fresh examples over the past few months. Either way, I’m hopping on my Grouch Train.

You know I’ve had issues with the phrase “like a boss” before. “Resonate” gets thrown around so much that this lovely word has become jargon, too. And “hack”? Well, that made jargon status the minute it left the tech field.

Here are some of the words that have landed on my jargon radar this year, and what you might use instead:


  • Example: “A regular cadence of meaningful news can help a company stand out and build mindshare with journalists over time.”
  • Meaning: Cadence means a fall in pitch of the voice, intonation, rhythm, flow or pattern. Jargonistas use it to describe how often a scheduled event is repeated. (The image of the meter shown here is buried on full jargon for cadence.)
  • Replace it with: “Regularly delivering meaningful news…”


  • Example: “Facebook’s YouTube competitor is pivoting to older audiences as teens tune out.”
  • Meaning: Pivot means to turn, hinge or depend on; synonyms including revolve, twist, spin, swivel, circle, swing, turn or hinge. As jargon, it suggests you are a nimble ninja making a quick move to something completely different.
  • Replace it with: “The competitor is turning to…”


  • Example: “We deliver a truly bespoke accounting experience.
  • Meaning: Once a word that applied to custom or tailored clothing, now it’s been hijacked to suggest custom or tailored work.
  • Replace it with: “We tailor our work to your needs.” As the amusing Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary says, “If you’re not making a suit, I don’t want to hear you say this word.”


  • Example: “We need to unpack this concept before we pursue the idea further.”
  • Meaning: You and I usually unpack a suitcase. Those who love jargon mean to explore or examine something in detail.
  • Replace it with: “We need to study this concept.”


  • Example: “It was the most egregious act the government has ever perpetrated.”
  • Meaning: This used to mean distinguished (in archaic meaning) but now more likely conspicuously bad, glaring or flagrant. I confess this word always makes me stop and think, “what does that mean again?” and that’s not what you want your writing to do.
  • Replace it with: “It was the most glaring act” (of what?).

Skillset (or skill set)

  • Example: “She chooses to pursue a position in public relations…reasoning that it will require much the same skill set that a published writer has.”
  • Meaning: A collection of abilities that can be applied to a professional endeavour.
  • What to use instead: “…it will require many of the same skills…”

In general, avoiding jargon makes your meaning clear. You also avoid the damage that results when readers roll their eyes at words like “bespoke.”

Do you find yourself running into these words more often too? What fresh jargon has offended you this year? Join me on the Grouch Train!

Related reading:
Jargon? Doesn’t sound best of breed to me
A list of offenders (like actionable and leverage) and better options